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Tochihime strawberries ‘melt in the mouth’

Japan’s Tochigi Prefecture is boasting the largest strawberry production in Japan for 50 years in a row. There is even a strawberry -called Tochihime- that is sold only in this prefecture.

Various other strawberry varieties are also grown in the prefecture, including the leading Tochiotome, the Nyoho, a classical variety that has been popular for many years, and newcomer Sky Berry, which is quite large. The Tochihime is a rare variety grown for harvesting at strawberry-picking farms in the prefecture.

Watanabe Ichigo-en, a strawberry farm in Kanuma, Tochigi Prefecture, has been growing Tochihime in its greenhouses since 2003. Hajime Watanabe, 45, the second-generation owner of the farm, said the harvest season for the strawberries is from late November to early May. December is a busy season with high demand for strawberries. Watanabe and others begin working in greenhouses from early in the morning, carefully picking the berries by hand and placing them in a basket on a hand cart. They check each strawberry to see if it conforms to standard.

Tochihime strawberries are sold at 18 tourism strawberry farms and farmers markets in Tochigi Prefecture. According to¸ sales periods and prices differ from farm to farm.

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